Cingular Wireless To Introduce Mobile Banking

Cingular Wireless will allow customers to transfer funds, pay bills, and perform other online banking transactions with their mobile phones starting next year.

The Atlanta-based carrier will partner with Atlanta-based electronics-payment company Firethorn Holdings to allow customers to do their banking transactions from Web-enabled handsets.

Firethorn is in talks with many banks and wireless carriers about similar relationships, but the Cingular deal is the first to be announced.

While any Cingular handset with Web access will be able to do mobile banking, customers will need a bank account with a financial institution that participates in the service.

Firethorn handles the relationships with the banks. Cingular customers go to their bank's Web site and sign up for mobile banking. The bank downloads the enabling technology and consumers can then conduct transactions.

Cingular spokesman Mark Siegel stressed the importance of safety and security in launching a service of this nature, saying that Firethorn has created a data-encrypted, password-protected network over which transactions will be conducted. He also expressed confidence in Firethorn's ability to act as the intermediary between Cingular and the banks.



"From our point of view, Firethorn provides a very good solution," Siegel said. "[The company can] handle all of the technical aspects and interface, which is an attractive alternative to Cingular having to establish links individually with banks."

The mobile banking application is expected to be available to Cingular customers by the end of the first quarter of 2007. Siegel would not comment on revenue projections or overall impact the mobile application is expected to have, but did say it will charge users for the bandwidth they consume when performing banking operations. Banks may charge an additional fee for the service as well.

Cingular this week introduced its BlackJack smartphone, a Samsung 3G handset that operates on the Windows Mobile 5.0 platform. Features include an MP3 player and access to the Cingular Music subscription service, which is compatible with content from eMusic, Napster and Yahoo, plus access to Cingular Video, Cingular's on-demand streaming video content service, which includes content from HBO.

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